National Young Farmers & Rancher Conference provides networking, educational opportunities
LOUISVILLE, KY—The American Farm Bureau Young Farmer & Rancher Leadership Conference provided motivational and educational information and time for essential networking. Montana had 28 attendees representing the UM-Western and Montana State University Collegiate Farm Bureaus and other young members actively farming and ranching. The event, held February 25-28 in Louisville, KY, was designed to learn, share and grow together to build a stronger Farm Bureau.
Zack Weimotz, a first-generation rancher from Fromberg, said the three keynote speakers AFBF President Zippy Duvall, professional rodeo athlete Braxton Nielson and globally known motivational speaker Delatorro McNeal, held a common theme. “The general message was you can always do better than your best. Don’t have unrealistic expectations of going from 0-100. Do one percent better each day throughout the rest of your life, and you will reach where you never thought you could,” said Weimortz. “That hit home because as a young farmer or rancher, the challenges we’re facing in starting a farm or ranch and with the current high input costs, we need to keep in mind that nothing can be achieved overnight, but doing one percent better each day will lead us to where we want to go.”
Workshops ran the gamut from leadership and tax laws to cattle herd improvement and risk management.
“One workshop I attended with Michelle Miller, known as the “Farm Babe,” covered how to be an ag advocate and control the narrative,” said Weimortz. “She told her story of inviting Burger King’s global marketing manager to her ranch following Burger King’s false advertisement on methane from cows. She showed him the importance of having a sustainable ranch.”
Weimortz took a tour which included two distilleries. The distilleries explained the process of bourbon distilling, from receiving grain to the finished product. In addition, the tour guide explained the sustainability of the industry, showing how they develop distiller grains. “They kiln-dry what’s then called Distillers Dry Grains, which created a high-protein feed for livestock. The sale of the DDG’s offset the cost of buying the grain.”
Ahna Fox, a junior at UM-Western, noted, “My trip to Louisville for the YF&R Leadership Conference gave me the opportunity to listen to amazing speakers, make connections in the agricultural sector and find friends. During my tour of horse farms in Kentucky I had the chance to see world-famous racehorses and view the impact they have had on history and society. Overall, I had an experience I will never forget that caused me to gain a great amount of valuable knowledge and special memories.”
This was the first time Weston Cassens, a young rancher from Corvallis, attended the conference. He appreciated the workshops and networking opportunities.
“At one luncheon, we sat with people who raise the same commodity, but across the nation. The next day, we were seated at a randomly assigned table, where we visited with others about different commodities,” said Cassen. “I enjoyed the Power Hour, which allowed you to leave your seat and network. One included a walking tour where I learned about the city’s history while getting to know other young farmers and ranchers.”
Cassen said not only did he have the opportunity to meet young agriculturalists from across the country, but the event provided him time to visit with collegiate Farm Bureau members from Montana. “I appreciate going to this conference and would encourage other young people to attend it.”
Weimortz agreed. “I think attending this conference is valuable as it lets you reach outside of your group and learn how other people operate on their farms and ranchers. I brought home so much useful information and exchanged contact information. This conference allows for a lot of personal growth and gives you opportunities to learn aspects about agriculture you might not have the opportunity to learn at home.”
–Montana Farm Bureau Federation
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